A decade of postmenopausal hormone therapy prescribing in the United States: long-term effects of the Women’s Health Initiative

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ObjectiveNearly a decade ago, landmark clinical trials revealed an increase in the risks associated with hormone therapy in postmenopausal women, leading to early changes in prescribing patterns. Long-term prescribing patterns in the United States after these trials are unknown. The objective of this study was to describe changes in hormone therapy prescribing including dose, formulation, patient age, and prescriber specialty from 2000 to 2009.MethodsA national pharmacy claims database was used to describe the annual prevalence and incidence rates of hormone therapy prescribing from 2000 to 2009 in women 50 years and older.ResultsThroughout the decade, a number of prescribing trends were observed: a continuous decline in hormone therapy overall, an initial drop in new therapy that stabilized after 2003, a decline in oral formulations and increase in vaginal formulations, a decline in standard- and high-dose and an increase in low-dose oral formulations, and an increase in the proportion of women who received hormone therapy from gynecologists.ConclusionsOverall prescribing of hormone therapy continued to decline during the past decade, suggesting a long-term impact of the Women’s Health Initiative findings. During this same time, treatment regimens shifted to favor vaginal and lower-dose oral formulations.

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